‘Spamusement’ park in Beppu could become a reality thanks to viral video

by

Staff Writer

Roller coasters, cable cars and Ferris wheels are typical rides at amusement parks, but the city of Beppu, Oita Prefecture, is mixing the excitement with a natural attraction — its famous hot springs.

In a now-viral promotional video uploaded Monday on YouTube, performers ride a roller coaster and other attractions sitting waist-deep in a hot spring.

The city calls it a spa amusement park project, dubbed “spamusement,” which would become a reality if the video gains more than 1 million views, a mark reached on Thursday.

“We weren’t expecting this many views, but we sure are happy,” said Michitaka Kubota, a spokesman from Beppu’s tourist department.

Kubota said the video was shown at Beppu Onsen Academia, a two-day symposium from Monday that debated the charms of hot springs, with the “spamusement” project being proposed as one new possibility.

The video was directed by Shinya Kiyokawa, known for his work on TV ads. Filmed at the Beppu Rakutenchi amusement park, riders are shown enjoying roller coasters, cable cars and Ferris wheels filled with hot water.

However, the city said it was unclear whether the planned hot spring amusement park will be exactly as shown in the video.

“It’s only an image. We are still discussing safety issues, for example, whether we could actually run hot water inside a roller coaster,” said Kubota. “But the rides will be something fun.”

He said a task force will be charged with shaping the “spamusement” concept into a park. Details of the rides and schedules are yet to be confirmed.

Beppu has the world’s largest source of hot springs that are an appropriate temperature for baths, with 83,058 liters of water flowing per minute.

With the country expecting 40 million foreign tourists annually by 2020, the video is targeted at an international audience, featuring English subtitles.

The number of non-Japanese tourists visiting Beppu is growing every year. In 2015, the city attracted 437,764 foreign visitors, up from 278,776 in 2010, with the number expected to continue surging.

While many private spas turn away those with tattoos, Kubota said that will not be the case in the city’s public hot springs, and that it is considering abolishing the practice under the new project.